Once upon a time, three children met at school. They were all very different – one was an orphan, unwanted and unloved by his legal guardians, with a history mysterious powers that he had yet to discover; another was a mischief maker, one of several children in the family of a government employee, growing up in a house where love reigned; and one didn’t fit in because of her family of origin, she was an inferior in the world of magic, and yet she was brilliant, hardworking, and committed to justice. Three eleven-year-olds who grew to be the best of friends.
We know them as Harry Potter, Ron Weasley, and Hermione Granger. The heroes of J.K. Rowling’s Harry Potter books. Some say they’re make believe but I believe that imagination is real and when we let our dreams guide us great things happen.
When they started school at Hogwarts, the wizard academy, they didn’t think they were special. Just kids trying to fit in to the challenges of a strange environment. And, oh, the adventures they had. Just kids, they partner with strong, wise, and good adults – like Dumbledore and McGonagle – to save their world.
There was another child, a child in another adventure book, the Bible. He had gone to outdoor meeting with his parents, who wanted to hear the wisdom of the Teacher Jesus. He was young and no one expected him to listen, but he did. He heard Jesus talk about sharing and sacrifice, about loving others as much as you love yourself, and caring for strangers and people in trouble.
That boy, perhaps eleven as well, overheard Jesus talking with his team of followers, “Look at all these people, how will we feed them?” Jesus’ team didn’t know what to do, and began asking people in the crowd, “Do you have something to share?” And, everyone shook their heads, “no.”
The boy noticed that the naysayers all had backpacks and suspected that each had more than enough to share. As he saw adults repeatedly shaking their heads and refusing to help, he knew what he had to do. He heard what Jesus said – love your neighbor, and when you share with others, great things will happen.
So, quietly, not wanting to draw attention to himself, he walks to Jesus’ team and says, “I have something. Five little loaves of bread and two smoked fish. That’s not much, but I want to give it to Jesus.”
Jesus’ friends took his lunch, but he could see the doubt in their eyes. “Five loaves and two fish can’t feed a multitude; it barely satisfies a child.”
But, then when they gave the food to Jesus, something magical happened. The baskets were passed and the contents multiplied, brim full, feeding everyone, with food left over.
All because a little child shared.
Jesus says there is a light in each of us – you are the light of the world – and Jesus says, let your light shine. There is a power in each of us – in children as well as adults – it is the power of love, of imagination, of hope, of sharing, of caring for people other than yourself. And this power can change the world.
Now Harry Potter, Hermione Granger, and Ron Weasley are all unique – one of kind – with special gifts and probably some special challenges. Ron likes to break rules, Hermione works too hard and feels like she always needs to prove herself because she’s a muggle and not pure bred, and Harry is often confused about who he is, and often doubts his power. But, each one uses their gifts and their problems to fight evil.
They can’t do it alone. In South Africa, there is a word ubuntu – it means “I am because of you.” It means we all need each other, we can’t make it alone.
In another bible story, a man who is unable to walk is carried by his friends to see Jesus. But, there’s a crowd in front of the house and they can’t get in. They want to give up. They don’t want to be a nuisance. But, then they remember, without their courage and love – their persistence – their will friend will never walk again. And, so they climb up steps, tear up the roof, and let the man down in a stretcher, and Jesus heals him – so he can walk, run, dance, and play.
Alone Harry, Hermione, and Ron will lose the battle, but together they can defeat even the One Who Cannot Be Named – Lord Valdemort.
Harry, Ron, and Hermione give us good news and here’s the three things all of us can learn today –and this is the gospel –
- There is a light that shines in you, giving you energy and wisdom, that’s all your own.
- A child can do great things with their gifts. An adult can do great things with their gifts.
- When we work together, helping each other, we can face difficult problems and triumph over evil.
Whether at Hogwarts, West Villages or Centerville school, or going about our daily lives – we matter and the small loaves and fishes of our lives can feed a multitude, nurturing body, mind, and spirit, and bringing beauty and love to the world.